Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

A rook exits the global chessboard

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | May 28, 2017

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died Friday, Henry Kissinger and Madeline Albright have been three foreign-born scholars who significantly influenced American policies and impacted global affairs through the past half century. For better or worse, Brzezinski and Kissinger were grand strategists too. Both left a trail of influence through their protégés.

Brzezinski was an indefatigable ‘Cold Warrior’ and was in danger of becoming an anachronism. The leitmotif of his “doctrine” was his virulent anti-Russian outlook, which could have been due to his Polish origin. (Albright, another hardliner on Russia, was Czech.) He and Albright – apart from Strobe Talbott, who served as deputy state secretary in Bill Clinton administration – were instrumental in burying whatever prospects existed for a historic rapprochement between the West and Boris Yeltsin’s Russia (which the latter was keenly seeking).

Clinton’s decision to expand NATO to the former Warsaw Pact territory was the turning point. (George Kennan, the architect of the Cold War, was prophetic in warning Clinton that such a move would be a catastrophic blunder and shut the door on any prospect of friendly ties with Russia.) Plainly put, Brzezinski and Albright ensured that Cold War flames were kept burning in the post-cold war era – although Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush were open to accommodating Russia.

Kissinger, who advocated détente, once described Brzezinski “a total whore”, someone who could be on every side of every argument. (Two years earlier, Brzezinski too gave a terse summary of Kissinger’s approach as Richard Nixon’s security advisor: “fascination with enemies and ennui with friends” – that is, supposedly Chinese and Russian enemies and Western European friends.) It has been said that for every book about international politics authored by Brzezinski, there is a corresponding book about Kissinger. Brzezinski published close to 20 books, but didn’t attempt any memoirs, and no one seems to have written his biography either. The two personalities were poles apart. Kissinger was terrific at self-promotion, while Brzezinski’s razor-sharp intellect that could be intimidating, provocative and combative (albeit unfailingly stimulating) created an aura of aloofness. As a thinker, he outstrips Kissinger.

On the other hand, his track record as a diplomatist in Jimmy Carter’s White House remains hugely controversial on two templates – during the tumultuous Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1978-1980) and the aftermath of the historic Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979). Simply put, Brzezinski scripted the “Afghan jihad” – unabashedly deploying jihadi forces as geopolitical instrument to bleed the Red Army. (That was how the al-Qaeda – and later the ISIS – was born.) Brzezinski’s stunning memos to Carter, exulting over the tantalizing prospect of creating a “Soviet Vietnam”, are the stuff of throbbing history.

Brzezinski later admitted that the US set up a bear trap for the Russians in Afghanistan. In a frank interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, he said, “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” There is a riveting essay in the nature of a book review on that momentous slice of international politics written by an American historian entitled Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Retrospect.

Brzezinski was a cold-blooded strategist rooted in Halford Mackinder’s famous Heartland Theory regarding the Pivot Area of Central Eurasia. In his complex thought process, “The key point to bear in mind is that Russia cannot be in Europe without Ukraine also being in Europe, whereas Ukraine can be in Europe without Russia being in Europe.”

Where Brzezinski and Kissinger would agree and disagree is when it comes to China. Both advocated the need for a stable, strong, predictable Sino-American partnership as an imperative of our times and, of course, in the US’ core interests. However, whereas Kissinger envisions the desirability of a trilateral US-Russian-Chinese “balance” in the interests of global stability, Brzezinski differs. Although Brzezinski grudgingly came to accept US-Russia détente, he saw it nonetheless as a paradigm where the US must keep the upper hand. (He saw no future for Russia.) Brzezinski argued that US should focus on building up ties with China, leaving Russia out in the cold, which would inevitably pressure Moscow to compromise lest it got “isolated” in big-power politics.

The problem with Brzezinski’s logic is that it blithely assumes that China would gang up with the US to isolate Russia – or would relegate its ties with Russia to the back burner. This is delusional thinking. The Sino-Russian strategic understanding gives the partnership a raison d-etre of its own, creating more space for both to negotiate effectively with the US.

Brzezinski’s departure can be compared to the exit of a rook from the chessboard. No doubt, the rook is a “heavy piece” on a chessboard, especially in the “endgame”. Like a rook, Brzezinski also moved horizontally or vertically, but never diagonally. But then, Brzezinski’s “heaviness” can also be taken very far. Good diplomacy needs plodders.

A case in point will be Brzezinski’s disastrous advice to Carter to mount a rescue mission – code named Eagle Claw – in April 1980 to bring home the 52 American diplomats held hostage in Iran. It was a reckless move. Eagle Claw never got near the American prisoners. Helicopters that were the mainstay of the mission were disabled in an unanticipated sandstorm in the Iranian desert. Eight American servicemen died and eight aircraft were lost.

Imam Khomeini later said in a memorable message titled “The mistake of Carter and its consequences” that the Iranian nation got the ultimate confirmation from Carter’s “foolish mischief” that the big Satan should never be trusted. The Imam warned,

  • I admonish Carter if he repeats again such a foolish act it will be difficult for us and the government to control the Muslim fighters and youths who are guarding the (American) spies.

That tragic folly probably cost Carter his kingdom in the November 1980 election. Carter’s Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had advised against Eagle Claw. Vance was by no means a pacifist; nor had he any liking for the revolutionary government in Iran. Vance’s rival for Carter’s ear was Brzezinski who was brash, clever, ambitious and held Vance in contempt as a relic of the once-dominant WASPs. Vance was indeed a WASP, born to a prosperous family in West Virginia and expensively educated. He had a successful career as a lawyer and seemingly was without political ambition.

But Vance’s plodder’s advice was spot on: Give the revolution, like for any revolution, the time to settle down, while patiently negotiating the release of hostages. Vance eventually resigned in protest over Eagle Claw – indeed, the only American state secretary to do so over policy differences, after being outmaneuvered by Brzezinski.

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stability Battles Chaos: From London to Aleppo

ccwfv8uusaaucv_

By Caleb Maupin – New Eastern Outlook – 17.11.2016

For over five years the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, and Germany have been working to topple the Syrian Arab Republic. In their efforts to remove the independent nationalist government led by the Baath Arab Socialist Party, the western imperialist powers have enlisted their collection of petroleum vassals and despots in the nearby area. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai; absolute monarchies that routinely behead, torture, and deny their populations even basic rights like freedom of speech are all sending weapons and training foreign fighters to destabilize Syria in what western leaders still pretend is a fight for “democracy.”

300,000 people are dead. Millions have become refugees. Among the fanatical colossus of anti-government forces in Syria, vile ISIL terrorist organization has emerged, unleashing horrors in Lebanon, Belgium, France, and elsewhere. Yet, western leaders do not end their mantra of “Assad Must Go!” and continue efforts to make the country less stable. It seems not to matter how many innocent people have to die, or how strong the dangerous terrorist “opposition” gets, western leaders seem unwilling to abandon their goal of regime change.

If the Syrian government were to fall, the results would be grim. The Al-Nusra Front, ISIL, and even a number of the forces the US has called “moderate” are devoted to establishing a Sunni caliphate. Syria’s religious minorities, the Christians, the Alawites, and others could face either forced deportation, or even outright extermination.

Russia, along with Iran, China, and Venezuela, have come to the aid of the secular, internationally recognized Syrian government, in the hopes of holding back the wave of extremism. The Syrian city of Aleppo is now divided, with the eastern section of the city under the control of various anti-government factions, including the US backed so-called “moderate” rebels, as well as the Al-Nusra terrorists, who were directly linked to Al-Queda until recent months.

Russia repeatedly requested that a humanitarian corridor be created so that civilians could flee Aleppo and escape the fighting, as the Iraqi forces did when fighting in Mosul. Neither the Al-Nusra terrorists, the US backed “moderate rebels”, or the United Nations, or the western powers would comply with Russia’s request. The call for a humanitarian corridor in Aleppo was denied. When speaking of the citizens of Aleppo, John Kirby of the US State Department insisted “they shouldn’t have to leave.”

Despite their efforts to protect innocent life, Russia and the Syrian government have been forced to fight against the Al-Nusra terrorists and their allies in close proximity to civilians. As Russia fights to retake the city from anti-government extremists, the US media suddenly has developed a concern for the civilian casualties of war. Allegations of Russian war crimes in Aleppo have filled the airwaves and the speeches of western leaders. Meanwhile, anti-government forces continue to shell civilian areas in the western side of the city. Western media ignores the cries of these civilians, while doing everything to demonize the Syrian government and Russia. The hypocrisy shouldn’t be missed by anyone. Some of very same individuals that backed the US invasion of Iraq which caused hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians to die, now voice “humanitarian” outrage about Aleppo. The leaders of NATO, who reduced Libya, then the most prosperous African country, to rubble, now bemoan the impact of war on civilian populations. The very same voices that long dismissed civilians killed by airstrikes, have now discovered that what they once called “collateral damage” indeed has human rights.

At the same time that Russia works with the Syrian government to retake Aleppo, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is conducting a relentless bombing campaign against the people of Yemen. There is no dispute that the Saudi attack on Yemen is violating human rights. The UN has documented that civilian targets are being intentionally hit. But no pressure whatsoever is being placed on Saudi Arabia to end its slaughter of Yemeni civilians. The western governments continue to actively assist their Saudi “allies” as they violate international law in Yemen, while demonizing Russia’s cooperation with Syria against terrorism.

When speaking of Aleppo, western leaders employ language that is quite similar to the kind often used by left-wing anti-war activists. The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, even called for anti-war protests targeting Russia when speaking before parliament on October 11th.

The November 3rd Provocation

cwx3burxeaam7ft-300x200On November 3rd, a group of 25 people wearing “Save Aleppo” T-Shirt presented themselves outside of the Russian embassy in London, and appeared to be following Johnson’s directive. They brought with them a truck full of manikin arms and legs. They proceeded to dump these arms and legs in pile in front of the embassy, effectively blocking its doors and preventing anyone from leaving or entering.

The manikin arms and legs were said to symbolize the innocent people of Aleppo, whose deaths they blamed on Russia. The police did not halt this demonstration, which appeared to have barricaded a foreign mission. As the protest continued, some of the provocative individuals in “Save Aleppo” T-shirts are reported to have chained themselves to the fence surrounding the embassy’s perimeter. Yet, it appears that not a single arrest was made. The police, who were on hand, apparently did not stop the individuals.

So, who were these individuals? The money for the protest was supplied by “Syria Campaign.” This is a non-profit organization funded by a Syrian billionaire named Ayman Asfari, in addition to other anonymous sponsors. It makes sense that a billionaire of Syrian descent, residing in Britain, would want to topple the “Baath Arab Socialist Party” that has run his country for many decades. Parallels between Asfari and the many wealthy Cuban residents of Miami are easy to make. The Syrian government, like the Cuban government, has provided housing, healthcare, and education to its population, achieving this with policies that make the richest people quite uncomfortable.

But beyond Asfari’s well-funded “Syria Campaign” that uses its huge endowment to spread propaganda against the Syrian government and its allies, who were the individuals in the T-shirts? Very few of them appeared to be of Syrian origin, but one cannot assume they were merely hired stooges either.

The answer to this question can be found in the name of an organization that co-sponsored the malicious provocation. The organization “Syria Solidarity UK,” which took credit for the action on its website, is well known to be a front group for the Socialist Workers Party of Britain. This “socialist” organization follows the teachings of Tony Cliff and Leon Trotsky, has its grip on Britain’s “Stop The War Coalition” as well. It is safe to surmise that a decent percentage of those who barricaded the Russian embassy’s entrance were Trotskyites.

Two Currents of Communism

So, who are the Trotskyists? To answer this question we must begin to examine the anatomy of the political left throughout the course of the 20th century.

Within the mass movements associated with Marxism, there are a wide variety of sects, ideologies, and interpretations. However, among the individuals who envision and work toward the overthrow of capitalism there are two distinct personal or psychological categories. These two trends often work in concert with each other. The two trends often do not even intentionally dissociate with each other, and can often be found within the same political parties and movements, despite the huge differences between them. The differences are found in motivation.

Among the political left, the primary and constant current is an extremely alienated minority from within the privileged sectors of society. In Russia it was a current among the children of the aristocracy, as well as from within the emerging bourgeoisie, who made up much of the cadre of the Bolshevik Party in its early years. While they were born in relatively comfortable positions, they knew that things in society at large were deeply wrong. They saw the suffering of the poor, and the many other injustices that existed, and were filled with anger and motivation to correct them. While other members of their social caste could be at peace with society, they could not.

Whether it is due to their unique access to education, or the fact that they are encouraged to ponder political and philosophical questions while other strata are not; regardless of the reason, a section of the most privileged people always seems to be drawn to revolutionary anti-capitalist politics. The trend is not restricted to pre-revolutionary Russia. One can think of the young French radicals depicted in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserable, or even the radicals of Students for a Democratic Society or the Weather Underground in the United States, who came from some of the prestigious Universities. No matter how strong or weak the leftist current is in society at large, a certain sector of the privileged classes exists as a kind of “radical intelligentsia.” This is true even in under the most repressive anti-communist dictatorships.

The second current, which constitutes a very solid majority of those attracted to leftist and anti-capitalist currents around the world, are those among the working and impoverished classes. While in times of prosperity they are less politicized, as they see their conditions deteriorating, they become motivated to take action and embrace anti-capitalist and revolutionary ideology.

Unlike the first current, their motivation is not a moralistic impulse based on alienation, but rather the basic desire to see their lives improve. This does not mean that such people do not have political depth or brilliance. Often these forces are actually much more politically effective and ideological. However, their introduction to revolutionary politics originates in a basic material need.

While these two distinct political currents espouse the same phrases and philosophies, they seem to crave two different things. The privileged children of the wealthy who embrace revolutionary politics often have a deep desire to create chaos. They see the world as unjust and cruel. They want it to be smashed, shattered, burned to the ground, and rebuilt anew.

The second current, while espousing the same political line, tends to crave the opposite. They are motivated to take political action as society is becoming less stable. The economic crisis has made their lives more painful and unpredictable, intensifying the suffering all around them, pushing them toward a desperate need for radical change. They embrace anti-capitalism because it offers stability beyond the “anarchy of production.” The revolutionary left is for them, not the road to chaos and revenge, but the path toward a new order with a centrally planned economy, in which justice is created and the chaos is ended.

The Origins of “Trotskyism”

Lenin’s book “What Is To Be Done?,” which laid the foundation for the Bolshevik project of a Central Committee and a “Party of a New Type,” was largely directed at members of the first, moralistic, and privileged group. It urged them to look past their own motivations, abandon terrorism and tailism, and build an highly disciplined organization that could push the broader masses of Russian workers and peasants toward a full revolution.

The October Revolution of 1917 was successful because it merged the two trends. In a time of crisis, the revolutionary intelligentsia who longed to smash the old order, were able to mobilize the workers and peasants who were suffering and desperately wanted “Peace, Land and Bread.” The effective convergence of these two currents created a new political and economic system.

However, almost immediately after the Soviet Union was founded, political space began to develop between the two trends. Lenin banned factions in the Bolshevik Party during the early 1920s in order to hold an increasingly divided ruling party together. Despite the ban on factions, the two trends did not cease to exist. After Lenin’s death, the two poles became personified in Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin.

Trotsky, the son of wealthy landowners in Ukraine, who had lived in exile most of his life and was beloved among the world’s cosmopolitan intellectuals, called for “Permanent Revolution.” The Soviet Union, in his view, should exist simply as a temporary hold out in a global revolutionary explosion. In his view, Soviet society should be organized around the military, and focus primarily on seizing the western financial centers of Germany, Britain, and France for the global socialist project to remake all humanity.

Stalin on the other hand called for “Socialism in one country.” He advocated for the Soviet Union to focus on building a good society for the people of Russia and the surrounding countries, while offering limited support to revolutionary forces around the world. “Socialism in One Country” would require signing treaties with the western countries, restoring the traditional family, and eventually even legalizing the Russian Orthodox Church. For Stalin and the majority of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, socialism did not mean an endless global crusade to behead every last king and capitalist, but rather, building a peaceful, prosperous society with a planned economy in Russia and the surrounding countries.

When Stalin was victorious, the world communist movement began to shed the most adherent members of the first revolutionary category. The Communist parties began building unemployment councils, trade unions, and other organizations dedicated to aiding working people and fighting for direct material gains as capitalism collapsed into a “great depression.” Eventually the “Stalinists” built a People’s Front of anti-fascists that played a decisive role in the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Trotsky took a significant number of western intellectuals out of the Communist International and into his “Fourth International.” The Trotskyists worked to antagonize and isolate the Soviet aligned Communist Parties, while at the same time presenting a negative perception of the Soviet Union as a “totalitarian” and “repressive” society that did to live up to the utopian dreams of middle class radicals.

Trotsky saw the USSR as a “degenerated workers state,” socialist in its economic foundations but “bureaucratized” in its politics. In the final years of his life, a number of Trotsky’s followers disagreed with this assessment and argued that the USSR was capitalist. Max Shachtman, Irving Kristol, and a number of the more middle class elements broke with Leon Trotsky, arguing that the USSR was not a “worker’s state” but rather “bureaucratic collectivism”, “state capitalism”, or fascism. These elements called themselves “Third Camp” or “Neo-Trotskyists.” The International Socialist Tendency, of which the British Socialist Workers Party is aligned, along with the US International Socialist Organization, is the largest group continuing these politics. It is “Third Camp Trotskyists” in Britain who have built the organization called “Syria Solidarity UK” which conducted the recent protests against the Russian embassy.

Interestingly, it is from within the “Trotskyists” who broke with Trotsky, and completely denounced the USSR, that one can find the origins of Neo-Conservative thought in the United States. James Burnham, Edmund Wilson, Max Eastman, and many of the leading right-wing intellectuals of the Cold War were era were originally Trotskyists.

Brzezinski’s Permanent Revolution

Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the leading CIA strategists during the Cold War, can largely be credited for defeat of the Soviet Union. Brzezinski’s career involved fomenting dissent and unrest in Soviet aligned countries. The gap between revolutionary intellectuals who crave chaos and revolution, and the pragmatic approach of Soviet leaders who wanted a stable, planned economy was a great asset to his activities. The CIA launched the “Congress for Cultural Freedom” to fund anti-Soviet leftists and artists, and further the space between them and the USSR.

In Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and many other socialist countries, the US Central Intelligence Agency enflamed and exploited the grievances of artists and intellectuals, who felt stifled by the Marxist-Leninist political set up, and longed for the “freedom” of the west. It has become almost cliché to talk about the role of Beatles music and other western counter-cultural icons in “the fall of Communism.”

Brzezinski openly bragged that he was “giving the USSR its Vietnam War” in Afghanistan. When the People’s Democratic Party took power in 1978, the CIA worked with the Saudi monarchy to launch a global campaign of Wahabbi Muslims against it. The USSR sent its forces into Afghanistan to protect the People’s Democratic Party.

In the global media, it was a different story. The press painted the Taliban and other forces organized by Osama Bin Laden as romantic guerilla fighters, battling against the USSR, portrayed as a crude, repressive invading force. The “Trotskyists” of the world embraced the Mujahadeen Wahabbi fanatics in much the same manner that such forces now embrace the Free Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front. Among the organized left, pro-Soviet sentiments were left only to a small minority, dubbed “Stalinists” and “Hardliners.” The long-haired, counter-cultural “New Left” bought into the CIA narrative, and believed that Osama Bin Laden was some kind of Che Guevara.

In the 21st century, Anti-imperialist governments, even those who completely reject Marxism-Leninism, have a lot in common with the political and economic system developed by Stalin during the 1930s. Anti-imperialist countries tend have five year economic plans or other mobilizations of the population toward raising the living standards. They tend to have a ruling party with a very complex and specific ideology, that sits at the center of a tightly organized and politicized population. The strength of the various anti-imperialist regimes is their ability to control the centers of economic power, raise the standard of living, and provide a comfortable life for the majority of their people.

In China, each child is given a red scarf when they begin their education. They are told that this red scarf is their own piece of the Chinese flag, and that it represents a political project toward building a prosperous society, which they are automatically part of it. Similar rituals exist in the Bolivarian countries, the Arab Nationalist states, and almost every other country where the government can trace its origin to an anti-capitalist revolution.

Meanwhile, the primary strategy of Wall Street for toppling these governments has been to employ the rhetorical style of Trotskyists, and appeal to the alienation and anxiety of the privileged elite. The CIA and its network of aligned NGOs has discovered key methods of manipulating and unleashing the desire for chaos among the middle class. Figures like Samantha Power talk about “mobilizing” for human rights around the world.

The primary way the US has attacked independent countries in recent years has been fomenting revolts such as Euro-Maiden in Ukraine, the “Green Movement” in Iran, the “revolution” in Libya. These uprisings are supported by Non-Governmental Organizations and carried out to serve the interests of the western financial elite. While they effectively maintain the global status quo, they are decorated with the most Guevara and Trotsky-esque propaganda on social media and western television. It seems pretty clear that the vaguely emotional lust for revolution and unrest among the alienated middle class has been effectively harnessed as a mechanism for defeating “Stalinism” and ensuring the rule of western capitalists.

Foreign Affairs: “Open International System” vs. “Populism”

The Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA-linked think tank, shed light on its worldview and strategy in the latest issue of their publication Foreign Affairs. In an essay by Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the primary architects of the US backed regime change operation in Libya, she described her prescription for the ailments of the global situation.

“The people must come first,” she tells us, like a soap-box agitator. “When they do not, sooner or later they will overthrow their governments.” According to Slaughter, the job of western countries is to facilitate the free flow of information through social media, in order to allow these uprising to come about.

Furthermore, Slaughter argues that the Treaty of Westphalia, and the concept of the nation state is out of date. Rather “responsibility to protect” or R2P has replaced it. The NATO states and their military must intervene in order to strengthen these revolutions, and topple regimes that get in Wall Street’s way. The strategy is global revolution, endless destruction and chaos until “open governments, open societies and an open international system” can be erected. We can almost hear echoes of Trotsky’s fantasy of “permanent revolution” in Slaughter’s writing, though Trotsky’s stated goal was to overturn capitalism, not secure its grip on the planet.

And who are the villains in the CFR narrative? They are “Populists.” The entire issue of “Foreign Affairs” is titled “The Power of Populism.” Listed among them are Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, the Supreme Leader of Iran, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. According the analysis, it is these dangerous “demagogues” who reject the “open international system” of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but instead mobilize their populations and preside over centrally planned economies that must be smashed. With the word “Populism”, the CFR seeks to link these governments to racism and anti-immigrant bigotry in western countries, and urge “progressive” and “enlightened” people to oppose them in the same manner.

Indeed, political navigation in the 21st Century can be quite difficult. The compass by which analysts have long determined left and right is broken. The defenders of free market capitalism and the rule of internationalist bankers have embraced the revolutionary blood-lust which was long a staple of the political left. Meanwhile, the anti-imperialists and advocates of planned economies now often position themselves as social conservatives and defenders of stability, morality, religion, and tradition.

While it is no longer exactly clear which way is “left” or “progressive,” it is blatantly obvious which way is better for the human race. The NATO regimes, despite mouthing left-sounding rhetoric in the process, have reduced Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria to civil war and chaos. The fruits of their imposed vision of an “open society” with “free markets” is not prosperity and freedom but poverty, chaos, and endless civil war.

However right-wing and conservative the governments of China, Russia, and Iran may seem, the societies they have created are ones in which profits are not in total command, and providing a decent life for the masses of people remains a priority. In the anti-imperialist regimes, the state is independent of market forces, and has the ability to restrict and control their actions. Meanwhile, a sense of collective vision and obligation exists, and people are not left isolated to fend for themselves.

Yes, the CFR’s vision of a clash between the “open international community” and the “populists” is certainly accurate as it is playing out before the world. Syria is simply the most visible battlefield.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

November 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US slams Russia for striking terrorists

Press TV | October 7, 2015

The United States has condemned Russia for striking the Western-backed militants in Syria and denied that it is cooperating with Moscow in this regard.

Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Italy, on Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the airstrikes against terrorists “a fundamental mistake”.

“I have said before that we believed that Russia has the wrong strategy — they continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. We believe this is a fundamental mistake,” Carter claimed, using an acronym for the Daesh terrorist group.

“Despite what the Russians say we have not agreed to cooperate with Russia so long as they continue to pursue a mistaken strategy and hit these targets,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry said it was considering proposals from the US to coordinate operations against ISIL terrorists.

“On the whole, these proposals could be put in place,” defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

He added that US and Russian military officials were discussing technical details on Wednesday.

“What we will do is continue basic, technical discussions on the professional safety procedures for our pilots flying above Syria,” Carter said.

“That’s it. We will keep the channel open because it’s a matter of safety for our pilots,” he added.

A new US intelligence assessment has found Russia has targeted militant groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Syria.

The assessment, shared by commanders on the ground, has led American officials to conclude that Russian warplanes have intentionally struck CIA-backed militants in a string of attacks running for days, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile, US foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski, a strong supporter of the Obama administration, says the United States should retaliate if Russia does not stop bombing its assets in Syria.

Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski

Moscow’s apparent decision to strike CIA-trained militants “at best” reflects “Russian military incompetence,” and worst, “evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” Brzezinski, the national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, wrote in an article published by the Financial Times on Sunday.

He added that if Moscow continues to target these people, then Washington should retaliate against Russians.

Obama administration officials are debating how the United States can come to the aid of its proxy forces on the ground without risking a broader conflict, according to the Wall Street Journal.

US officials said Russia’s moves in Syria posed a direct challenge to the Obama administration’s foreign policy on the Middle East.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Brzezinski: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, their western allies orchestrated Syria crisis

Press TV –  June 29, 2013

The former US national security adviser says the ongoing crisis in Syria has been orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and their western allies.

“In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” Zbigniew Brzezinski said in an interview with The National Interest on June 24.

He added that US President Barack Obama also supported the unrest in Syria and suddenly announced that President Bashar al-Assad “has to go — without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen.”

“Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort,” said Brzezinski, who was former White House national security adviser under Jimmy Carter and now a counselor and trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a senior research professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Criticizing the Obama administration’s policies regarding Syria, he questioned, “Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that ‘democratic.’ And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered.”

“I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly US policy was aiming at,” Brzezinski added.

He also called on US officials to push much more urgently to draw in China, Russia and other regional powers to reach some kind of peaceful end to the Syrian crisis.

“I think if we tackle the issue alone with the Russians, which I think has to be done because they’re involved partially, and if we do it relying primarily on the former colonial powers in the region-France and Great Britain, who are really hated in the region-the chances of success are not as high as if we do engage in it, somehow, with China, India and Japan, which have a stake in a more stable Middle East,” Brzezinski said.

Brzezinski also warned again any US-led military intervention in Syria or arming the militants fighting government forces there.

“I’m afraid that we’re headed toward an ineffective American intervention, which is even worse. There are circumstances in which intervention is not the best but also not the worst of all outcomes. But what you are talking about means increasing our aid to the least effective of the forces opposing Assad. So at best, it’s simply damaging to our credibility. At worst, it hastens the victory of groups that are much more hostile to us than Assad ever was. I still do not understand why — and that refers to my first answer — why we concluded somewhere back in 2011 or 2012 — an election year, incidentally that Assad should go.”

Foreign-sponsored militancy in Syria, which erupted in March 2011, has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel.

The New York Times said in a recent report the CIA was cooperating with Turkey and a number of other regional governments to supply arms to militants fighting the government in Syria.

The report comes as the US has repeatedly voiced concern over weapons falling into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups.

Al-Nusra Front was named a terrorist organization by Washington last December, even though it has been fighting with the US-backed so-called Free Syrian Army in its battle against Damascus.

~

Excerpt from TNI interview:

Heilbrunn: Are we, in fact, witnessing a delayed chain reaction? The dream of the neoconservatives, when they entered Iraq, was to create a domino effect in the Middle East, in which we would topple one regime after the other. Is this, in fact, a macabre realization of that aspiration?

Brzezinski: True, that might be the case. They hope that in a sense Syria would redeem what happened originally in Iraq. But I think what we have to bear in mind is that in this particular case the regional situation as a whole is more volatile than it was when they invaded Iraq, and perhaps their views are also infected by the notion, shared by some Israeli right-wingers, that Israel’s strategic prospects are best served if all of its adjoining neighbors are destabilized. I happen to think that is a long-term formula for disaster for Israel, because its byproduct, if it happens, is the elimination of American influence in the region, with Israel left ultimately on its own. I don’t think that’s good for Israel, and, to me, more importantly, because I look at the problems from the vantage point of American national interest, it’s not very good for us.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Electronic Intifada and the mudkicker

By M. Idrees | Pulse Media | May 1, 2010

The Electronic Intifada has on its front page a ludicrous, factually challenged and logically flawed attack on John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s work — work that has been pivotal in shifting the debate on US Middle East policy. It is not clear to me what EI was hoping to achieve with this self-defeating move. But I don’t blame the author of the article — the fellow is clueless, he has cobbled together his screed from arguments and quotes randomly lifted from Noam Chomsky’s writings — I blame EI’s political and editorial judgment. At a time when Israeli colonization is intensifying, with the land in the grip of a neo-Fascist government, one’s priorities must be seriously upside down to spend precious time impugning the invaluable work of allies. It appears for some supporters of Palestine the need to feel self-righteous takes precedence over the imperative to be effective. Now, it is beneath me to respond to someone who freely purloins others’ work, misuses sources, and constructs a slipshod argument. But I’ll give two illustrative examples of the kind of deliberate distortions that keep resurfacing in these ideological assaults on M & W (in both cases the specific claims have been ‘borrowed’ from Chomsky):

Chomsky has long maintained that the war in Iraq was for oil. He always produces the same evidence to support his case. A state department document from 1945, a quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski and another from George Kennan. Chomsky argues that Middle East oil is ‘a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history’ (State Department), and anyone who controls Iraq’s vast oil reserves gains ‘critical leverage’ (Brzezinski), indeed ‘veto power’ (Kennan), over competitors. All of this is indisputable: the United States would no doubt like to control Iraqi oil; it recognizes the ‘critical leverage’ the control affords it; and the critical leverage no doubt would grant it ‘veto power’. Now here is the problem: The State department document Chomsky cites is about Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. And it recommends that, precisely because Saudi oil is so important, US must always maintain friendly relations with the kingdom. Also, it does not follow that regime change is the only means to achieve these goals. Indeed, all of these claims have been just as true the past half century, but they did not necessitate war. The US has long preferred shoring up authoritarian regimes which could ensure its dominance and maintain a stable flow of oil.

Secondly, The Iraqi government was not withholding its oil; it was the US-led sanctions that were preventing it from reaching the markets. There is no evidence that Iraq was unwilling to cede control of its oil to the United States. Indeed, in the months leading up to war Saddam Hussein’s government made several attempts to stave off war by offering the United States exclusive concessions to its oil reserves. If oil was indeed the motivation, then one would expect plentiful evidence of oil interests influencing policy, or at least in selling the war. Chomsky offers none. Nor does he inform readers that Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man whose words he cites as evidence of Iraq as a ‘resource war’, was one of its most vocal opponents. Bzrezinski has called the war ‘a historic, strategic, and moral calamity…driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris’.

In his peculiar reading of Brzezinski, Chomsky ascribes him a view that is an inversion of what he actually says. Brzezinski, who saw the invasion as an unnecessary war by the pro-Israel neoconservatives, avers:

American and Israeli interests in the region are not entirely congruent. America has major strategic and economic interests in the Middle East that are dictated by the region’s vast energy supplies. Not only does America benefit economically from the relatively low costs of Middle Eastern oil, but America’s security role in the region gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region. Hence good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates… is in the U.S. national interest. From Israel’s standpoint, however, the resulting American-Arab ties are disadvantageous: they not only limit the degree to which the United States is prepared to back Israel’s territorial aspirations, they also stimulate American sensitivity to Arab grievances against Israel. (my emphasis)

Since the EI scrivener reproduces Chomsky’s exact interpretation of the ‘critical leverage’ quote along with Kennan’s on ‘veto power’, it is clear that he hasn’t even bothered reading the original sources. The same is true of his other comment about Israel serving as an offshore base for the US (which he mistakenly attributes to Chomsky, who is in fact quoting Alexander Haig). What this fellow doesn’t know is that the comment was uttered in a certain context: i.e., Haig’s bureaucratic struggle against Reagan (whom he saw as an intellectual inferior) in which he was keen to enlist Israel lobby support. (For more on this, see Patrick Tyler’s excellent A World of Trouble or my review of it). So long as the de-contextualized quotes fit preconceived notions, who cares what was actually said or done?

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim called this the ‘ideological method’: the use of ‘notions to govern the collation of facts, rather than deriving notions from them’. In the a-historical writings of these analysts-on-the-cheap, one frequently finds that two and two add up to yield twenty-two. If US support for Israel and its interests in the region’s oil have remained constant over the years, it must mean the two are complementary. They aren’t. As I explained elsewhere:

United States Middle East policy has been defined since World War II by the tension between two competing concerns: the strategic interests which require good relations with Arab-Muslim states, and domestic political imperatives which demand unquestioning allegiance to Israel. That the US interest in the region’s energy resources has remained consistent, as well as its support for Israel, leads some to conclude that somehow the two are complementary. They aren’t. US President Harry S. Truman recognized the state of Israel the day of its founding over the strenuous objections of his State Department in order to court the Jewish vote and, more significantly, Jewish money for his re-election campaign. Every president since — with the exception of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, who saw no cause to feign balance — has sought to address this tension with attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. All these efforts have so far foundered. A study of US policy in the region over the decades, then, is inevitably a study of the causes of these failures [among which the Israel lobby looms largest].

It is not clear to me why The Electronic Intifada would undermine years of valuable work by giving platform to this discreditable piece of charlatanry. It has certainly made me reconsider any future association with the publication. We are at a juncture that calls for political maturity, to make the most of the openings recently created. This type of reactionary posturing and myopic absolutism merely serves as an alibi for inaction.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments